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Artisan Baking Equipment, Ingredients, Courses & News


Blue Cheese & Mushroom Sourdough Focaccia

All change at BakeryBits. Over the next couple of weeks we are moving to a much larger premise in Wellington, Somerset and away from Honiton in Devon. Sadly we couldn’t find what we were looking for near Honiton and Wellington, although over the border, is a pleasant little market town not very far away (for all you that like to collect from us). We believe that we are on top of things (including our new boy’s toy, our forklift) and so it should be business as usual even if not behind the scenes!

I’m up for something savoury, attractive and very tasty this week. Little time for discussion with Vanessa as to exactly what this might be but I can trust that she’ll deliver, and so here it is.

- This recipe is actually an excellent way to get people new to sourdough to give it a go as Vanessa absolutely and completely promises that nothing can go wrong…(I may have embellished her words a little).

I know what we’re having this weekend!


I love the idea that while tucked up in bed, tens of thousands of wild yeast and lactic acid bacteria are hard at work in a bowl on my kitchen table, performing their magic to make a light sweet dough ready to transform into focaccia.

I have used Sapori Antichi in this recipe because it gives a buttery soft crumb. It is a beautifully blended flour with a sweet, light flavour. It is a little more expensive but then the flours are a blend of heritage grains which include golden Kamut. If you want a more robust crust you can make this with 00 instead for a chewier traditional more open texture.

This method is what I call cheat’s sourdough. It involves making a leaven at lunchtime and mixing the dough before going to bed. There is no kneading and although I miss that connection with the dough that I get from using a daytime method, just leaving it overnight to ferment will develop the gluten and all you need do is to give your dough a light shape in the morning and transfer it to a tin with a good slug of olive oil. Then it is simply a matter of foraging in the fridge, adding some toppings and baking. The only thing that requires any thought or special attention is the temperature of the water you use in the evening. If the kitchen is warm then use cooler water and visa versa. I use my water at about 19C as my kitchen is about 17C overnight.

Make the sourdough leaven early afternoon, 8 - 10 hours before you want to mix your dough, mix in the evening, leave overnight and shape and bake the following morning.

Sourdough Leaven:

Take your starter from the fridge.

Add 2 tbsp of the starter to a large bowl.

Stir together with the flour and water, cover and leave for 8 - 10 hours until lively and bubbly.

Main Dough:

Your leaven should be bubbly and ready to use. Stir the sourdough leaven with the water in a large mixing bowl. Add the flour and salt then mix until the ingredients come together in a sticky ball. Cover with a clean and damp tea towel and leave to prove on your kitchen table overnight.


Uncover your dough – it should be well-risen. Pour a very generous slug of olive oil into the tin and a drop on your hands. Using a scraper, edge the dough away from the sides of the bowl and transfer gently into the oiled tin. Handle delicately as you do not want to knock the air out.

You don't need to press the dough down into the tin as the final prove will take care of that for you.

Leave your dough to prove for 30-40 minutes and preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4.

Once the dough has had chance to rest and recover a little, gently arrange the topping across the top of the dough. Drizzle a little more olive oil over the toppings as this helps avoid them burning in the heat of the oven. Bake for 35-40 minutes. You will need to check and judge how well done you like your Focaccia, but if your oven is particularly fierce or you like softer toppings pop a piece of tin foil on the top to protect the cheese and herbs from catching and take it off for the last ten minutes. (If your oven is uneven then you may want to rotate it after about 20 minutes). Leave to cool before slicing.

If you want a softer bread then cover it with grease-proof paper or foil and leave in the tin to cool.

a large mixing bowl
1 clean tea towel
9”/23cm round tin

2 tbsp Sourdough Starter
50g Organic Sapori Antichi Flour
50g cold tap water

300g tap water
500g Organic Sapori Antichi Flour
10g fine sea salt
A few tbsp
extra virgin olive oil

100g blue cheese
4/5 sliced mushrooms
Sliced red onion (optional)

Sprigs of rosemary


Vanessa's Sourdough Starter | £14.00

Fresh sourdough starter from Vanessa Kimbell, taken from a 200 year-old culture in France. It is fed on organic white wheat flour and water and at least 300g is delivered in a convenient pot to keep a small quantity in your fridge between use.  

Artisan Extra-Virgin Olive Oil | £7.00

Pelia Extra-Virgin olive oil is a very fresh and grassy olive oil with a very delicate flavour and a smooth aftertaste that doesn’t burn the throat.

Organic Sapori Antichi Flour | £4.14

Sapori Antichi is a stone-ground organic flour blending the ancient Kamut and Enkir flours with rye and Farro for breads and rolls, pasta or puddings.

Do you have a sourdough question for Vanessa? Send it to us and the best ones will appear in our next postbag edition and receive a dough whisk.

Suggestion Box

Are we missing something? An usual flour, a particular tin, or a special piece of equipment you’d like to see on our shelves? Let us know and if we decide to stock it, you will receive the very first one of the item you suggest.

Don’t forget to take a look at our clearance lines.

Featured Bakery - Award winning sourdough bread in the heart of Liverpool

I was chatting to Sam at the award winning Baltic Bakehouse in Liverpool last week. The bakery was recently featured by Telegraph Food writer Diana Henry in her Britain’s 20 Best Bakeries describing how “Different loaves are cooked on different days, from 100 per cent rye on Monday to ciabatta on Friday, while typical sweet treats include “99 doughnuts”, filled with rich vanilla custard and topped with a flake, and banana and salted caramel buns.” Personally I love Sam’s can do attitude - it takes real guts, hard work and determination to build a bakery up from scratch, so I asked Sam to answer a few questions about how he got into baking and where he sees the future of bread.

Where are you from originally?
Liverpool originally, I grew up here. I’ve lived all over the place, but came back here a few years ago.

Where did your love of baking come from?
I grew up near a traditional bakery so we always had good bread, also my mum was a home economics teacher, so I was instilled with a love of cooking from a young age.

Where did you train?
I’m self taught. I read every book I could, and practiced a lot. I was baking bread every day at home for about a year before we opened. I’d recommend books by Dan Lepard, Ken Forkish, Chad Robertson and Jeff Hamelman. Baking bread is like falling down the rabbit hole, you start just trying a simple white loaf but you quickly get obsessed, you move on to baguettes, ciabatta, focaccia etc, then all of a sudden you’ve got more sourdough starters than you have friends.

What where the biggest challenges setting up the bakery?
Finances, equipment costs a huge amount and doing it on a shoestring like we did was hard, I spend a lot of time scouring the second hand market. Also the step up from baking at home to consistently baking lots of good bread day in day out was a lot harder than I thought.

What is your favourite loaf to bake / eat and why?
That really depends on what I’m eating it with, the Baltic Wild and BFB make great toast and also fantastic sandwiches. But with a soup I love the Wild Dark (our 100% wholemeal sourdough) covered in butter. A bacon butty in our traditional white tin is also a favourite, and the 100% rye is great as well. Basically you’ve asked me which one of my children I love more, I’m not sure I can answer.

What is your most popular non bread product?
We have a reputation for doing a great bun, either Chelsea or banana and caramel. Also our tarts like chocolate salted caramel, banoffee, crack pie etc are always popular.

Where do you see the future of bread?
At the moment it’s all about heritage grains and stone ground flour, we get fantastic high extraction flour from Walk Mill, they have a refurbished water mill where they grind all their own wheat. I think the future needs to focus on making bread less of a demon, it gets a bad press for being unhealthy, which is understandable considering the awful cr*p that gets called bread in supermarkets. We need to push how slow fermentation and whole grains make a product that isn’t only very digestible, but also really healthy, packed full of nutrients and dietary fibre.

What are your opening hours?
9 to 5 Tuesday to Friday. 10 to 4 Saturday and Sunday. Monday we’re closed.

46 Bridgewater Street, Liverpool Twitter - @balticbake Tel - 0151 708 6686


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Demuth's Cookery School

Demuths cookery school is situated in the centre of Bath, just beside the Abbey and a 5 minute walk from the train station. Our cookery courses are fun, relaxed and full of flavour. We welcome all food lovers, whether you are vegetarian or not, all our courses are suitable for vegetarians, and many are vegan, raw and gluten-free. Led by Rachel Demuth, our teachers are experienced chefs, our kitchen is spacious and inviting, and our location is perfectly situated in central Bath. Come eager to learn. Leave inspired.

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Featured images courtesy of (from left): J D Stevenson, Ian Simpson, Kare Sjoholm

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